Sound — 9
Madina Lake are a pretty new band, only forming in 2005, and yet they've already played numerous shows, including a highly anticipated performance at Give It A Name this year. I was at the show, and they had no problems recreating the album live, giving it even more energy. On the surface, Madina Lake exhibit the characteristics of a typical alternative rock band, with anthemic choruses, crunching guitars, and passionate-but-still radio friendly screaming incorporated into the melodic singing. So much so that when I first heard this album it all sound a bit too similar for my liking. However, it has grown on me significantly, and although the album doesn't really stray from the aforementioned sounds, all the songs are incredibly listenable and catchy. And after all, it's their debut, so I don't mind that they have stayed with the sound they are obviously comfortable with, and more importantly, pull off very well. A pleasant suprise was the track "River People" which, while never reaching the same speeds as the other songs, has a dark, yet grooving bass line that hints that this band know how to create a mood in their music. "One Last Kiss" and opener "Here I Stand" stand out as the best of Madina Lake's characteristic sound, with huge choruses begging for a sing along. "In Another Life" is another standout track, the pseudo-screamed dark verses and rending, melodious choruses leading to a nice, tuneful solo by guitarist Mateo. It will be interesting to see whether he shows off any more of his ability on future albums like this solo or the great riff in "Here I Stand".
Lyrics — 8
Madina Lake's lyrics are pretty standard stuff; grieving, love, loneliness. The lyrics are supposed to partially tell the story of a young woman named Adalia in a typical American town called Madina Lake, which the band use to voice their opinions on life, the media and love etc., but I haven't particularly looked into this aspect. So for the moment, the lyrics are well suited but not particularly outstanding. The lyrics fit the music very well, as does singer Nathan's voice. He often alternates between scream and singing mid-sentence and even mid word, adding a sense of conviction to the lyrics more than the pre-planned "scream verse sing chorus and repeat" formula. His style doesn't particularly change over the course of the album, but again, it would be odd for the singer to be doing something radically different if the rest of the band weren't playing music that would suit it. He puts in a particularly impressive showing of melodic screaming on "True Love", probably the heaviest song on the album, and both the singing/screaming and sound remind me somewhat of lostprophets.
Overall Impression — 9
For a debut album, Madina Lake have done very well. It does have some flaws, perhaps relying on the power chord driven choruses a bit too much, much like Enter Shikari have a tendency to overuse gang vocals, not that I'm bashing ES, as I like their debut just as much, if not more than this one. To me, the stand out songs are "In Another Life" for it's good use of alternating heavy verses and light choruses, "One Last Kiss" for being just so damned catchy, "River People" because it strays a little from their slightly stretched formula and has a great bassline, and "True Love" because it is a heavy, energetic end to the album. I enjoy listening to this band a lot, and should be seeing them around October, which I am looking forward to a lot. The band's music convert perfectly to a live environment: energetic, fun, great to sing along to. This band have a potentially very bright future ahead of them if all their songs are so well constructed, and their rise in popularity is well deserved in my opinion. If I lost this album, I would be mightily pissed off, and although it is by no means an essential listen, I would most likely get again because I enjoy it so much.